When I arrived at Cleveland Airport this morning, I found a tweet from @nancypantscan (who has the coolest Twitter icon—I can never stop staring and marveling at it!), who said this soup, previously posted, is always a hit, and even converted her I-don’t-like-squash-soup bro-in-law. As the weather is getting chilly all the way down to my mom’s condo in West Palm, there is no better soup to put on your menu this week.
I will be eating at some sweet spots here in NYC but even hope to have at least one cozy night at home, and this is the perfect dish for a tiny NYC kitchen, along with a good baguette.
When I made the above soup, I took some extra time to clean and sauté the seeds in some butter for a crunchy garnish. Fresh or whole, dried thyme leaves are the key to the flavor of this soup (don’t use the old, powdered thyme sitting in your spice rack). I still have fresh thyme in the garden and that makes a good finishing garnish, and last, some yogurt, which I always have on hand. (High point of last week: My Indian neighbor came over to ask for some starter as hers had gone bad, which happens, and she knows yogurt, so it was a great honor; I’m glad ours didn’t go bad at the same time.)
Soup is a technique in Ruhlman’s Twenty, as is sauce, and this could easily be the sauce for a scallop dish (we’re in prime scallop season—lucky East-coasters are, anyway). I love how soups and sauces are often interchangeable. I’d never serve a bowl of Sauce Robert, or a bowl of Hollandaise, but most thick, puréed soups can be used as sauces. What a killer use of leftover butternut squash soup that would be!
Butternut Squash & Leek Soup
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and julienned (save dark green parts for stock)
- 2 tablespoons butter, plus 2 teaspoons or so for the seeds (if using)
- Salt to taste
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, cut in large dice, seeds reserved
- 2 teaspoons whole dried thyme leaves (not powdered thyme; this is critical)
- 1 quart half-and-half (you won’t use it all; you can get by with 2 cups if you wish)
- 1/2 cup Greek or homemade yogurt, crème fraîche, or mascarpone
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (optional)
- Sauté the leeks in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until they’re soft, hitting them with a big four-finger pinch of salt (a teaspoon for the ladies who are measuring).
- Sauté the rinsed reserved seeds in the remaining 2 teaspoons butter till golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes over high, then low heat.
- Add the squash and the dried thyme to the leeks and stir to heat through for a few minutes. Add just enough half-and-half to cover the squash. Bring to a simmer and cook on medium-low for 15 minutes or so.
- Purée the squash in a blender (or in the pot with an immersion blender) till uniformly smooth.
- Serve garnished as you like with yogurt, toasted seeds, and fresh thyme.
Other links you may like:
- My other soup posts: corn tortilla soup, French onion soup, and cream of celery root soup.
- Learn more about the various types of heirloom squashes.
- Make spicy roasted squash seeds as a tasty snack.
- David Lebovitz shares his recipe for pumpkin ice cream.
© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.